A Yogini’s Guide to Glowing Health
By Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogaraj, DN-C, RH
Yoga makes a woman strong. And yoga’s sister health science, Ayurveda, helps her stay that way. The goal of Ayurveda is to nourish, restore, and balance the body functions that have been taxed by the wear and tear of daily life. If we don’t rejuvenate consistently, our tissues become like old leaves that dry out and blow away. Yogi Bhajan’s Ayurveda and yoga practices are directed toward strengthening, purifying, and nourishing body tissues to bring back vibrancy and the glow of youth.
Ayurvedic programs enhance health, produce the finest bodily tissues, reduce senility and other diseases of old age, lengthen life, and promote memory, intelligence, and beauty. Generally, compared to men, women tend to run a bit cooler (think of those cold feet under the covers) and with drier skin and body tissues (do bottles of moisturizers come to mind?), both of which are air tattva characteristics. To offset these tendencies, the goal for a woman is to stay warm, moisturized (both inside and out), and grounded over a lifetime.
Lifestyle and medicine are the two forms of rejuvenation in yoga. “Hot” activities, such as passion and anger, age the body more rapidly, so calming behavior is a key point in a healthy life. To live longer and have better health, practice meditation, speak the truth, avoid becoming angry, avoid conflict, and steer away from drugs and alcohol. The teachings of yoga take care of that. When it comes to medicine, food and herbs fill the bill.
Diet is the most basic Ayurvedic building block for long term health. It is safe, and can be used by anyone as self care. Adding herbal medicine makes it even more powerful. Women generally do better with a diet of mainly cooked, easy to digest, moist food and a consistent program of everyday maintenance herbs.
The yogic diet that promotes rejuvenation revolves around nutritious food selections, emphasizing whole grains like wheat and rice, along with seeds, nuts, milk products, and natural sugars, such as honey. Cooked, moist foods (soups) will help. A woman’s diet should be balanced to contain a broad range of tastes: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and astringent. Generally, use food that is sweet, light, and easily digestible. Oh, and don’t go too far over the spicy side, because excessively pungent foods can be a little drying for women. Use less dry or raw food, and include a good quality raw vegetable oil (almond, sesame) and ghee. To these basics, add your choice of selected potent foods that help you stay in the pink for a long life.
The Purple Powerhouse
Eggplant, known in Ayurveda as “elabatu,” is a sweet, astringent, and pungent stamina builder that bumps up circulation. A warming food, it’s excellent for “cold” women—those who could use more prana. It’s one of the greatest foods for women’s healing. In fact, it’s such a good woman’s food that Yogi Bhajan liked to call it “God’s ovaries.” Along with the “trinity roots” (onion, garlic, and ginger), eggplant is an aphrodisiac.
This purple energizer helps to regulate hormone functions, and will help bring on a tardy menstrual period. It’s a diuretic food and can be helpful in chronic PMS treatment. Eggplant has not been studied much, so the way it works is unclear, but it may contain phytohormones, like those being discovered in many other foods.
Robyn Landis, in her book, Herbal Defense, talks about her experience of using eggplant to naturally stimulate the onset of menses that had ceased for over two years. Still, for amenorrhea, it needs to be eaten regularly—say half of an eggplant daily—to produce results, and it is not a great food during pregnancy. Eggplant increases appetite and, for some people, gas. It increases muscular strength, and helps with gallstones. It has been used for asthma, cough, and chronic pain.
You may want to take a walk on the wild side and give some other types of eggplant a try. Besides the familiar purple globe style, it comes in a dizzying array of colors, sizes, and shapes: little green striped ones from Thailand; “pea” eggplants the size of a grape from Southeast Asia; white walnut-sized European varieties; orange eggplants from Turkey—all will help you stay strong as a woman. Eggplant is a nightshade, related to tomatoes and potatoes, so some folks who have trouble with nightshades may have to avoid it, though this is pretty rare. Generally, eggplant is not compatible with yogurt, milk, melon, and cucumber.
How Many Husbands?
Shatavari root* (Asparagus racemosus) is the main Ayurvedic sexual rejuvenating tonic for women. The name means “hundred husbands,” so you can take the hint. This builder and balancer for the female reproductive organs is said to increase fertility and balance female hormones. The shatavari plant is a close cousin to the asparagus we eat as a vegetable, which has similar properties.
For mothers, this famous remedy increases breast milk, and for elders, it’s valuable in treating menopausal complaints, including hot flashes and vaginal atrophy. Cooling shatavari acts as a blood cleanser, assists the immune system, sharpens the intellect, and enhances digestion and physical strength. A recent study found that an Ayurvedic combination containing shatavari reduced stress effects substantially.
And it doesn’t stop there. Shatavari is a soothing treatment for dry or inflamed membranes of the lungs, stomach, kidneys, and sex organs. It’s often useful for dealing with bladder infection. Women in Asia begin using shatavari at puberty, and often take 1-2 grams per day for a lifetime to prevent disease. In many ethnic groups inAsia, menopausal complaints are almost unknown. If you missed the chance to start shatavari at age fourteen, and you are experiencing female hormonal symptoms (PMS, menstrual cramps, mood changes, menopausal hot flashes), you can safely use a much higher dose. Use it in capsules, and work up gradually to the dose that is effective, perhaps about 7 grams per day.
Ayurveda suggests preparing shatavari as a milk decoction (simmer in milk, strain), combined with ghee, raw sugar, and honey. Women can enjoy life at a level far beyond what most have learned to tolerate. Just make a start toward a yogic lifestyle and consistent health practices, and life can be a whole different ballgame. Happiness in all areas of your life, including the boardroom and bedroom, is your birthright. With five thousand years of experience in helping people stay happy, healthy, and sexy, Ayurveda can show you the way. And a little extra eggplant doesn’t hurt.
*Shatavari root is available from www.a-healing.com.
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogaraj, DN-C, RH, is the president of the American Herbalists Guild. He mentored in Ayurveda with Yogi Bhajan for 32 years. The Healing Cures of Yogi Bhajan is his homage to Yogi Bhajan and the wealth of information he had the blessing to learn from his master. Karta Purkh has presented over 150 times at professional conferences, has written over 3,000 articles on health topics and is the author or editor of 30 books on health, including his latest, The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs. He is curriculum director and lead instructor in the Portland Community College Nutritional Therapy Program and heads the herbal education department of the Northwest Institute of Ayurveda.
He will be a featured presenter at the 2012 conference of the National Ayurvedic Medicine Association conference. He lives in the Northwest with his wife and daughter. [email protected]
 There are five tattvas or elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether